The new Ford Bronco will be unveiled on July 13, not OJ Simpson’s birthday. That’s about two weeks from now, with details leaking out almost every day. One of those details is that Ford confirmed this week it will let you give it $100 just to line up to buy the SUV, but the details on what that actually buys remain a bit opaque.
The deposit will be refundable, according to Automotive News, and not Ford’s first, as there was a $500 deposit required to configure and the reserve Mustang Mach-E after its debut. The Mach-E deposit doesn’t appear to exist anymore, but Ford says it will go ahead with a similar system for the Bronco.
The deposit essentially puts customers in line for the vehicle, allowing them to configure it and choose a dealership. Ford will convert those deposits into completed orders at a later date, when the customer confirms final pricing and specs.
The news of the refundable deposit first appeared on Bronco fan forums yesterday, and a Ford spokesman confirmed the plan to Automotive News.
We can thank Tesla for deposits becoming a thing, but with Tesla the money goes toward the sale of the car. That doesn’t appear to be how Ford’s deposit system works. This is from a Ford FAQ about Mustang Mach-E deposits:
What is a reservation?
The reservation is the opportunity for customers to configure and be among one of the first to order the Ford Mustang Mach-E all-electric SUV with a $500 refundable Reservation Deposit. It is not an actual order and does not guarantee delivery.1
Am I buying this vehicle directly from Ford?
No. The Purchase Agreement shall be between you and the Dealer, not you and Ford. Your Reservation Deposit will not be applied towards the purchase price of the Vehicle. Instead, once you have entered into a Purchase Agreement, your Reservation Deposit will be returned to you.
There is no reason to think Bronco deposits will work much different, because, like with Mustang Mach-E, Bronco will be sold by dealers not Ford itself. But it still is a strange contortion, and the Mach-E FAQ doesn’t even guarantee that paying the deposit will put you in a first-come, first-serve line to get the vehicle, or guarantee you will get the vehicle you configured. It merely promises that you will be among the first to have the chance to buy. It also doesn’t guarantee delivery.
I asked Ford about the Bronco’s reservation system, specifically what it was for and if Ford adjusted production to react to it, working under the assumption that Ford will not start making your configured Bronco because you plunked down a cancelable $100 reservation. A Ford spokesman got back with the following response, which implies that Ford will build Broncos according to customers’ reservations. I will be interested to see how this plays out!
We’ll have more details to share July 13. All customer reservations are expected to be fulfilled before we start production of stock units.
My best guess is that the reservation system is a way for Ford to conduct market research on a product it hasn’t sold in over two decades, because I can see the value of knowing which Bronco trims and options its fans prefer, and to adjust production accordingly, in a broad sense. What it gets for consumers is less clear, aside from bragging rights and the joy of configuring a car, though we’ll know more later this month.